Clarification from Greek PM about his proposal to EU for vaccination certificate to assist travel this Summer

An article on Greece’s proposal to create a commonly agreed, standard digital vaccination certificate across the EU is signed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the pan-European website Euractiv and in German on the Das Morning Briefing website .

The standard digital vaccination certificate, as the Prime Minister notes, will not lead to any restriction on the freedom to travel, but on the contrary could lead to the creation of a fast travel lane for those who have this digital, standard certificate.

Restricting our freedom and prosperity during this terrible pandemic is painful and unprecedented. The coronavirus pandemic brought us sadness, isolation and affected not only our health but also our work, prospects and social norms. We made a necessary and conscious sacrifice in order to save as many lives as we can.

Now that the end of this trial is looming on the horizon, with mass vaccinations gradually taking place in all EU countries, we should not take this sacrifice for granted. We owe it to the citizens to use every means at our disposal and to utilize every tool of our political and governmental arsenal so that we are fully prepared to accelerate the return to normal life in 2021. Under no circumstances should we put in risk jobs or lose another year trying to restart our economies. Once we can take action, we must not dwell on words and allow bureaucracy to lead to delays and setbacks.

One of the most important tools we have at our disposal is to link a vaccination certificate to movement that is unrestricted by current restrictions when traveling. And we can do that at the level of the European Union. By introducing across the EU a commonly agreed and standardized, standard digital vaccination certificate, we will be able to reopen, revitalize tourism and leisure, and allow (European) citizens to move freely and unrestricted by country in a country. I will be in favor of such an arrangement at this week’s European Council.

I understand that there will be concerns on this issue. Why move now, at such an early stage and not later? Because we need to prepare for the summer, when a much larger number of people will be vaccinated – the experience of the Passenger Tracking Form (PLF) last summer showed us that timely planning is vital. Citizens will reasonably wonder if this certificate could lead to some kind of restriction on our freedom to travel. No, that will not happen. We should not confuse a vaccination certificate with a travel passport. Our aim is not to divide Europeans into two categories, those who have been vaccinated and those who have not. Instead,

Those wishing to travel but do not have a certificate will be able to travel under the existing travel rules, such as the mandatory molecular test (PCR) before departure, rapid test upon arrival and quarantine where necessary. Such measures should remain at the discretion of each state and it is almost certain that they will continue in 2021 as we move towards achieving immunity. However, it would be complicated and financially unprofitable for such measures to be implemented by everyone.

Is data protection at risk? No. In Greece we have already prepared the model of a digital vaccination certificate for air, sea and rail travel, which we shared with our partners in the EU. The certificate has a QR code, a unique document ID and a digital stamp . All the above are connected to our portal so that everyone can check the validity of the certificate. The information is available in two languages ​​and includes the name of the holder, the social security number, the type of vaccine, and the date and location of the installments. All data is digitally verifiable and encrypted within seconds. And in terms of data protection they are secure and protected. I am committed to sharing this technology and know-how with all European Member States.

Although in Greece vaccination is not mandatory and the certificate will not be a prerequisite for travel, I hope and believe that citizens will embrace both. I accept that many citizens who do not belong to vulnerable categories will not be vaccinated for some time. For this reason, we will continue to use the top international intelligent control systems we have at airports.
At the end of the day, what a commonly agreed standard digital vaccination certificate will offer is reassurance, allowing citizens to travel free of quarantine restrictions after being vaccinated and gaining a significant degree of immunity.

That is why I am now raising the issue with the European Commission and why European leaders should start working on this initiative immediately, in order to properly shape the digital certification and related practices worries.

Above all, we are not talking about a passport based on vaccination. It is not intended to limit the ability of citizens to travel. Instead, it is about expanding freedom of movement, with a simple, reliable and secure digital solution that can revitalize our economies. Just to be able to carry out such collaborative ventures, the European Union was created. Together we can do it.

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